The race for the third seat on the Tucson Unified School District board remained close with a newcomer still leading two other candidates.
Challenger Cam Juarez maintains an advantage over two others, including incumbent Miguel Cuevas and newcomer John Hunnicutt.
Juarez has 10 percent of the vote compared to Cuevas and Hunnicutt at 9 percent each. Juarez has about a 2,000 vote lead over Cuevas. Hunnicutt is about 20 votes behind Cuevas.
Newcomer Kristel Ann Foster and current TUSD board member Mark Stegeman were the two top vote getters in the school board election.
Foster had more than 13 percent of the votes, while Stegeman had 12 percent.
There were 12 candidates vying for three seats on the board.
Current board members Miguel Cuevas and Alexandre Sugiyama likely lost their seats on the board, according to the late-night results.
Stegeman, 56, was cautiously optimistic late Tuesday as the results began coming in.
"I'm encouraged so far, but there are still quite a few votes that were not counted" yet, he said.
Stegeman, an economics professor at the University of Arizona, said that whoever is elected will need to exhibit stronger leadership than the board has shown in the past.
He was aware that Foster received the most votes and that Juarez was in the top three but still involved in a race that got close as the night went on.
The two newcomers should be considered in any board decisions that are made between now and January, when they would be officially appointed if elected, he said. "I think they should be a part of any discussion and any decisions," he said.
Foster, 41, is a program specialist with the Sunnyside Unified School District. She said in a statement that Tuesday marked a "new day" for TUSD.
"Our community has chosen new leadership and a new vision for our schools, a vision more aligned to our values and beliefs about what's right for our kids and their education." she said.
"I am honored to represent my community on the TUSD Governing Board and, just as I did as a candidate, I will give my very, very best to this position."
Juarez, 40, is a program coordinator for the county's community development and neighborhood reinvestment department. Hunnicutt is CEO of PAYtran LLC.
TUSD's newly elected governing board members will have to lead the district through some tumultuous times.
The district will face a $17 million budget deficit and is looking at closing numerous schools.
TUSD was hoping voters would approve Prop. 204, which would have likely erased the district's deficit, officials said.
However, the initiative appeared to be defeated Tuesday.
The district will likely have to lay off teachers and administrative staff in order to close the budget gap.
The number of school closures in the district's School Master Plan range from 13 to 31.
The proposed master plan features three scenarios the district would likely use to close the gap.
In addition to school closures and teacher layoffs, each plan made provisions for increased class sizes through layoffs, as well as increasing student achievement through teacher raises and professional development.
TUSD also has created a list of criteria it would use to determine which schools it would close and consolidate. However, the board hasn't approved the criteria.
Find the latest results for other Southern Arizona school districts on Page A13.
Contact reporter Jamar Younger at email@example.com or 573-4115. On Twitter: @JamarYounger